Mental Health Awareness at Work
Mental health awareness at work and promotion of mental wellbeing in the workplace is as important as good management of an ongoing mental health condition that an employee may be experiencing.
Communicating and Building Relationships at Work
There is lots of practical advice available to help us all individually and collectively prevent stress, anxiety and depression and other mental health situations, see:Mental Health at Work is a great website providing lots of information and resources, including a Coronavirus Toolkit.
Communicating and building relationships with our work colleagues and managers is important for them to understand us better and actively promote our wellbeing, thus also preventing us from becoming unwell.
The advice for easing discussions around mental health in the workplace is to discuss the health situation as early as possible. Also in a clear and direct friendly way by listening and expressing concern and considering their individual needs, alongside discussing other aspects of their work and personal situation as well.
Also the following ACAS Supporting mental Health in the Workplace advice.
Business in the Community also have a Mental Health for employers Toolkit
also Tips for everyday living at work for employees – how to be mentally healthy at work from the Charity Mind.
What is a WAP?
The WAP is inspired by Mary Ellen Copeland’s Wellness Recovery Action Plan® (WRAP®): an evidence-based system used worldwide by people to manage their mental health.
The Charity Mind have developed a useful Guide to Wellness Action Plans (WAPs or WRAPs or Advance Statements) document, which encourages employees to reflect on the causes of their own stress and mental health in the workplace and actively support their own mental health by taking ownership of practical steps to help address these triggers.
We all need to support our mental health at work, so all staff should be offered a WRAP – whether they have a mental health problem or not. This sends a clear message that the organisation cares about employee wellbeing and helps encourage people to be open and seek support sooner.
Our highlights from the document include:
Talk to each other
“This process can also help managers to open up dialogue with employees, understand their needs and experiences and ultimately better support their mental health.
Prevention and pro-active help
“Managers should work together with employees to develop a personal action plan to proactively manage their mental health. This allows people to plan in advance and develop tailored support for a time when they’re not coping so well”.
It also facilitates open dialogue with managers – leading to practical, agreed steps which can form the basis for regular monitoring and review.
An action plan should cover:
- Actions and behaviours that support the employee’s mental wellbeing.
- Symptoms, early warning signs and triggers for poor mental health or stress.
- Potential impact of poor mental health or a mental health problem on their performance.
- What support they need from their Line Manager.
- Positive steps for the individual to take if they are experiencing stress or poor mental health.
- An agreed time to review the support measures to see if they’re working.
It should be drafted by the employee, with support from a health professional where appropriate, and then discussed and agreed with the manager.
The WAP should be held confidentially and regularly reviewed by the employee and their manager together.
Employees need only provide information that relates to their role and the workplace, and that they are comfortable sharing.
The WAP is not legally binding but is intended to allow a Line Manager to agree with employees how they can be practically supported in the workplace and how to address any health needs.”
A Mental Health Policy
Generally, implementation of good mental health practices across the organisation for all, can be beneficial, so that health promotion and education around mental health can benefit all and allow others to support each other. Developing a Mental Health Policy is beneficial.
Consider stressors related to psychological, emotional, cognitive and physical issues at work. Coronavirus impact also now needs to be taken into account.
Coronavirus/Covid-19 Advice and Support
All individuals are being impacted by the current situation, with lockdown and future uncertainty. Fear and anxiety, uncertainty, sadness, due to loss/grief and anger are all normal emotional reactions, to such a situation.
Cognitively, the upheaval, can lead to a lack of focus, difficulty to pay attention and listen, brain fog/not feeling ‘present’ and difficulty to make decisions, feeling numb, negative thoughts, bereavement and seeing others grief and loss of productivity can occur. This with other unhelpful behaviours such as changes in sleep patterns, eating poorly, lack/over obsession with exercise, overload of social media and (fake) news stories, drinking alcohol, being critical/blaming others and arguments can occur. This can add to anxiety levels, guilt, feeling inadequate and less productivity.
The following advice/sites may be helpful:
Also see the following for supporting workforces/individuals: https://www.matesinmind.org/news/covid19-mentalhealth.html
Stress & Resilience Assessments
Taking steps to look after wellbeing can help to deal with pressure and reduce the impact of stress. This is sometimes called developing emotional resilience. Resilience is not just one’s ability to bounce back, but also one’s capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances, whilst maintaining a stable mental wellbeing. Resilience isn’t a personality trait – it’s something that we can all take steps to achieve (Mind.org.uk).
It may be suitable to conduct some reviews/risk assessments for all individuals, such as a Work Stress Risk Assessment – eg see an example on Fit for Work website) and also for each individual to have their own WRAP, as discussed above.
Also, to monitor the mental health and resilience of individuals and teams. See: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/about-one-you/ The quiz asks questions about health behaviours (e.g. physical activity, diet, smoking) to let you know how you are going. It takes about 5-10 minutes to complete and provides links to useful resources, such as apps and web resources.
A resilience tool: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/resilience-quiz.htm This quiz helps you to assess how resilient you are and provides advice and guidance to become more resilient. It takes 5-10 minutes to complete.
Also see: https://www.robertsoncooper.com/iresilience/ in addition to the quiz above, if you would like to get a deeper understanding of your resilience and how you might respond to workplace pressures based on your resilience profile. It takes around 10-15 minutes to complete.
Training in mental health first aid in the workplace for the awareness for all employees, generally, may be beneficial.
See MHFA. https://mhfaengland.org/ or run a mental health or well-being awareness campaign.
If reasonable adjustments are extended to all staff, to reduce stress levels or if they have less severe health conditions, this could foster understanding flexible working and adjustments, and can be good practice for all to prevent work related stress.
Training for line managers in mental health, may also be beneficial, via an online search e.g.: https://www.newleafhealth.co.uk/mental-health-courses-for-line-managers/
Also see training offered by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, for managers and employees: https://www.i-act.co.uk/
Mental Health Awareness at Work – Occupational Therapists can assist
Occupational Therapists are the only Allied Health Care Professional trained at a pre-registration level to work within both physical health and mental health.
Where mental health awareness at work has been raised, some individuals may require a Mental Health Assessment to review their individual situation. Occupational Therapists can offer health assessments in the workplace for all health needs in order to assess the employee’s ability to perform their work role and suggest reasonable adjustments which can help.
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See our Useful Links page which includes diagnosis specific advice from organisations which can help.